Saturday, February 16, 2013

Survivor Caramoan Episode 1: A Case of Deja Vu

Was it a case of deja vu? If you go back to a few years ago when we first had Fans vs Favorites on Survivor, the Favorites got a little too cocky thinking they had the game all figured out. Then, the first immunity challenge came around and their asses were handed to them. Not to say that the Favorites underestimated the fans this time out, as more of the tension came from within the Favorites tribe, but it was a clear upset. More on that later, though I thought Survivor Philippines premiere was better, it was a great episode overall! Ninety minutes worth of scheming, flirtation, and Phillip in his neon pink undies! 

The dramatic entrance to this season saw the favorites riding a helicopter over the Caramoan Islands while the 10 fans sit on a boat in anticipation of what this adventure has in store for them. As the fans landed into this small and gorgeous islet, they were introduced to their competition one by one. It was interesting how fans reacted to the Favorites as they each walked out of the helicopter. Both Cochran and Dawn were met with a huge round of applause.. then Brenda walked out and Julia was overheard saying, "She's so dangerous... so dangerous". And of course, everyone in the fans tribe went crazy when Phillip was last called out by Jeff. I wonder how big of an impact these impressions are going to make down the road.

I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed by the premiere of Survivor Caramoan - a packed 1.5 hour of good reality television. Hence, I am breaking down the highlights of the pilot episode below so you can read more about my thoughts on this episode:

1. The reward challenge. I loved it. Loved it! No, not because Malcolm had a bit of an exposure as he battled with Corinne against Reynold and Allie for that winning point, but because it sets the tone for the competitive nature of this game. How much more hardcore can you get than a pure battle of brawn in exchange for flint and 20 pounds of beans? In a game wherein you are left to fend for yourselves, any advantage you can get is going to be huge boost for the team's morale! It ended up being a blowout with the Favorites winning 4 to 1, but the Fans surely did not go down without a fight!

2. Phillip vs Francesca 2.0. The two biggest adversaries from Redemption Island are forced to work together yet again. Having been voted out first during her initial stint on Survivor, Francesca has thankfully learned from her first time out and made modifications as to how she dealt with her tribemates. But Phillip won't hear a word of it. This relationship is one of the funniest we've seen in the show. A clash of personalities or a natural dislike towards each other? Who knows what could be going on in that mind of Phillip - everything that comes out of his mouth just sounds looney and step ahead of his tribe.

3. Shamar vs Matt. Let me just say it once and for all - I love Matt. As much as character makes the show fun, I always appreciate a hard worker. It's something that a lot of the viewers overlook but a good work ethic is something that I respect in a game of Survivor. On the other end of the spectrum, Shamar is the biggest guy on their tribe yet he won't lift a single bamboo or help out in putting together the shelter. It created a tiff between the two right off the bat, which concerned Reynold because of its potential repercussions at the tribe's ability to perform in challenges or even its effect on team morale around camp. They were able to set aside their differences, though, when Shamar finally helped out in making fire. About time you make yourself useful!

4. Cochran's Sun Burn. Poor kid. He looks like he hasn't been exposed to the sun for years! And when he was tossed into this tropical island, his body went nuts. To reiterate Jeff, "that's the worst sun burn I've seen in my entire life."

5. The "Cool Kids" Alliance. The inevitable happens. The younger, good looking bunch of the tribe joins together to form the self-declared Cool Kids alliance. This alliance is made up of two pairings - Hope & Eddie and Allie & Reynold. Cute, right? The only problem is, any pairing will be perceived as a threat in the game of Survivor. Earlier in the episode, Reynold explained that Allie was not an obvious choice as his ally so no one would suspect it. And just as quickly, he canoodled and snuggled with her during the first night and hang out at the ocean with Hope and Eddie the next day. Can't they do the math? This is a 10-person tribe with 4 people openly declaring their allegiance to one another! Way to go with subtlety there, Reynold! This is another alliance that reminds one of the four-person alliance at the original Fans vs Favorites involving Parvati, James, Amanda, and Ozzy.

6. Immunity Challenge. In keeping with the theme Deja Vu, this one was true for Malcolm. On Episode 4 of Survivor Philippines, Malcolm was tasked at handling the swing ball for breaking the rice pots. He helped the Matsing tribe establish an early lead but ended up wasting the opportunity as Jeff Kent caught up to him at the last leg of competition. As he was outdone by Reynold at tossing the sandbags, the Favorites had to make the first trip to tribal council. I had to make a note on how impressive Andrea was at this particular challenge. She and Brandon scaled the fourth level of that vertical structure like mad men. It was really impressive how she kept up, even poor Allie slowed down midway through that climb. That was brutal!

7. Bad at Survivor? This has never happened before. And I should've saw it coming.. the editing has dropped some hints here and there with Francesca's confessional reiterating her fate as being the first vote-off last time. It is, therefore, a case of deja vu for Francesca. She's the first vote off and Phillip being the cause of her demise. But Andrea has to watch her back, too. Everyone perceives her as a threat and she has to downplay that now that she got four votes during the first episode, just narrowly avoiding being voted off.

I feel bad for Francesca to have been given this opportunity to redeem herself after being voted off first. And then to go out first the second time? Dagger in the heart. But Andrea outplayed her this time. Both came out with guns ablazing and it did not quite work out for Francesca. The question now is - will Jeff bug her about that rock thing at the reunion? We'll see... 

Are you excited for the next episode? What did you think of the premiere?

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